Reggie Murphy believes in Rogers football.
The longtime Rams assistant was named the team’s acting head coach on Monday afternoon, a week after the City League program received its third resignation from a hired head coach since the end of the 2013 season.
“It’s big for me,” said Murphy, who will fill the void left by Chris Etts’ sudden resignation as head coach on August 11. “I’d always prepared myself to be a head coach for 16 years.
“I know how to build a program. I helped build Rogers up.”
Murphy, 42, served as an assistant at Rogers for eight years under Rick Rios. Murphy also spent four years as a St. John’s assistant under Titans coach Doug Pearson. Murphy believes those years helped prepare him for this opportunity to try and help resurrect a Rams program that finished 2-8 a year ago, including a 2-3 City League record, under Keith Dawson.
It wasn’t long after the 2013 season ended when it was made known Dawson wasn’t returning as the Rams coach. It led to Rogers hiring Shawn Simms, who resigned last spring after taking a full-time job that conflicted with the time needed to serve as head coach. Etts, a former Southview assistant, was named the Rams head coach in late spring before resigning last week.
Murphy was among the applicants for the head coaching spot after Dawson’s departure, but wasn’t offered the job.
“I interviewed at Rogers before, but I guess they had bigger resumes, but I came back to help build the program,” said Murphy, a 1990 Scott graduate and all-City League safety who attended Defiance College.
Murphy returned to Rogers as a member of Etts’ coaching staff. He now finds himself in charge of the team that’s had a special place in his heart since the death of Drushaun Humphrey led him to volunteering as an assistant coach for Rios as a way of “giving back to the community.”
Murphy accepted the acting head coach offer from athletic director Harold Howell without hesitation.
“I knew what it looked like from the outside in, and I felt like I could fix it,” Murphy said. “It’s still frustrating to lose coaches, but all I could do is move on and deal with what we’ve got and keep positive.”
Etts apparently gave up the coaching position because he had issues with Toledo Public School policies regarding student athlete eligibility and participation. Attempts to reach Etts for comment were not successful.
Howell said the coaching post will be re-opened at the end of the 2014 season, and they will accept resumes to hire a full-time coach.
The Rams athletic director said Murphy, who was one of four paid assistants on Etts’ staff, was the right person to assume the interim coaching duties.
“He knows the culture and he knows the kids,” Howell said. “He has the most experience out of all the coaches.”
Murphy understands he isn’t guaranteed the job at the end of the season, and realizes he’s in a coaching audition.
“Either way it goes, I’m still going to be here at Rogers,” he said. “I believe I’ll do well enough to become the head coach.”